As Leicester’s largest local nature reserve, Aylestone Meadows plays a vitally important and unique role in the local community - supporting important habitats, species, and environments all whilst providing amenity for residents and visitors. The River Biam, which connects the Meadows and the city centre, has previously been engineered and straightened, accelerating the movement of water into the city centre potentially increasing flood risk and certainly damaging biodiversity and natural habitat.
The challenge at Aylestone Meadows was to create more space for water and more space for nature all whilst improving access for people and wildlife. As the country’s leading environmental contracting specialist, Sanctus were delighted to be asked to deliver a series of environmental interventions to make this ambition a reality. We identified a package of works and the relevant partner organisations at tender stage for Aylestone Meadows to drive forward our social value promise. We operated a very open and transparent policy when pulling together our core team of volunteers. Experience in working outdoors was not considered essential, more preferable given the varied nature of the work and the environment in which it was carried out. CV’s and previous experience were screened by the Sanctus project team and an indication given as to the type and level of work that could be offered.
At the site we offered work experience to two people with offending histories, both of whom had previous experience working in the construction sector. The project programme at Aylestone Meadows allowed them to gain experience of tree planting and constructing a boardwalk within a sensitive landscape to a programme schedule. Additional responsibilities included management of on-site vehicle and plant movements and liaison with members of the public.
Our project programme also included ground preparation, tree planting and mulch laying. This provided the volunteers with valuable experience in the planting of smaller trees (whips) and effective distribution of a wildflower meadow seed mix. Our volunteers found this element of the project programme very rewarding and soon realised the value and wider benefits of improving the natural landscape within their own local community. Sanctus’ commitment towards continuing to offer an inclusive is prevalent by having a similar programme over at Everards meadows.